Secret of Water’s Success
Once upon a time, there was a Master whom people traveled far a wide to seek his advice on how to be successful in life.
A man took great pains to tread the mountain tracks and finally arrived at the humble abode where the Master lived.
“How can I be successful, Master?” asks the man in earnest upon meeting the Master .
“What is the shape of water?” Instead of giving the man an answer, the Master asked.
“The shape of water?” The man was perplexed. “But water has no shape!”
Quietly, the Master took out a cup and filled it with water.
The man was delighted. “I know it now! Water is in the shape of a cup!”
The Master shook his head. He decanted the water into a vase.
“Oh! Now I understand. Water is in the shape of a vase!” exclaimed the man.
Now the Master poured the water onto the sandy ground, where it disappeared into the sand in no time. The man pondered, and said. “So … water has no shape, and yet it can be in any shape.”
The Master nodded his head, and led him to a corner of the house. Pointing to a hole on the ground, he asked, “What do you see on the ground?”
“It is a hole, formed by drips from the roof,” said the man.
“Here you are! If you want to be successful, be as pliable and yielding as water, so as to stay close to reality,” said the Master. “If you want to be powerful, be as focused as water, as it can penetrate a rock. This is Tao.”
Awestruck, the man thanked the Master.
From then on, his life had never been the same again.
Water can be in any shape, so it can stay close to reality. Water is focused and consistent, so it can be strong enough to destroy resistance of a rock.
Like Lao Tzu says,
“The softest of all things, drives the hardest of all things.
The non-substance penetrates the non-crevice.
Hence, I know the value of action without striving.
Teaching of non-words,
Benefits of non-actions,
Rarely are they outstripped in the universal.” (43)
Thanks to Dave Stokes for the picture.